COVINGTON - Newton brought plenty of cleaning supplies to Alcovy on Saturday night, as both the boys and girls basketball squads swept their crosstown rival.
Newton 56, Alcovy 45
Something had to give at the Jungle - one team was going home a winner, the other was not.
After all, both the Rams and Tigers were undefeated entering play.
This time it was Newton (4-0) that kept its winning streak alive thanks to timely shooting, particularly from the free-throw line (6-of-8) in the fourth quarter.
Entering the final stanza, the Rams were 4-of-12 from the charity stripe, perhaps plagued by opposing fans and hecklers in a jam-packed gymnasium.
"It was a good game and we wanted to win this first one," Newton coach Rick Rasmussen said. "I felt like it would be a tough game; it's a tough place to play and I'm sure it'll be a good game Jan. 10 when they come back to our place."
Trailing 14-13 after the first quarter, the Rams found themselves still down one point at halftime. A jumper by Derrick Henry, who ended with a game-high 20 points, made it 25-24 to end the half.
In fact, the Tigers forced 12 turnovers in the opening half compared to just five.
"We talked about it at halftime that we just needed to settle down," Rasmussen said. "We were trying to make some passes that were not worth trying to force. I felt like if we fixed (that), made our free throws and took care of the ball we'd be in good shape."
Jamon Hawkins gave the Rams a 29-28 lead in the third with a 3-pointer that found nothing but the bottom of the net. However, he picked up his fourth foul at the 3:29 mark, and was forced on the bench until the fourth quarter.
Soon after his return to the court, he connected with a field goal and one to put the Rams up 44-43 with 3:49 left in the game.
They never looked back.
"I think he was tired of sitting on the bench," Rasmussen said. "He made a statement there."
Hawkins added a deep 3-pointer - his fourth of the night - two minutes later to help preserve the victory.
"I was just ready to take over," Hawkins said, who finished with 18 points. "After sitting on the bench for that long time, knowing that I'm a leader on this team, I just had to come back and show them what we were made of."
Alcovy's Jordan Butts had a team-high 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Brad Williams added nine points.
Overall, the Rams shot 46 percent from the field (19-of-41) while the Tigers shot 35 percent (17-of-49).
"This feels good," Hawkins said. "They got us last year, so I think it would have been the right thing to get them back on their own court."
Newton 59, Alcovy 47
The Lady Rams (1-3) took advantage of a 21-point fourth quarter to pull away with their first win of the year against the Lady Tigers (1-2).
In addition, Newton forced 21 of 30 turnovers in the second half, clamping down on defense while the offense did the rest.
"I think we just turned it up once we got that little bit of energy," Newton coach Tiffani Johnson said. "We jumped on it and stayed on it for the rest of the game. I knew once we were able to make a run and get ahead we'd be able to stay ahead; it was just a matter of fighting to get that lead."
After a slow start and a combined 15 turnovers, the score remained tied 10-10 entering the second quarter. Each team made four baskets on 17 shots apiece, including 2-of-4 from the free-throw line.
By halftime, the Lady Tigers led 26-25 entering the locker rooms.
After several lead changes to open the third, Newton's Sade Weaver hit a jumper, tying the game 34-34 with 50 seconds left in the quarter.
Weaver, who finished with a game-high 15 points, added another field goal 30 seconds later to give the Lady Rams the lead for good.
"At halftime I just reminded them that we're not in bad shape," Johnson said. "We just had a couple things we needed to clean up and if we did (that) the game is ours."
Alcovy's Kate Palo cut it to 45-44 with a layup at the 3:35 mark in the fourth. But Newton countered with a 9-0 run thanks to Martice Hyman's eight points in the final quarter, including 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.
Hyman finished with 13 points. Leah Butler chipped in with nine points, while Emili Russ had eight.
Tiffany Moody led the Lady Tigers with 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Alex Tucker added 12 points.
Both teams shot 33 percent from the field. Newton finished 12-of-19 from the free-throw line (63 percent), while Alcovy was 9-of-16 (56 percent).
"I'm a very competitive person and my team knows that," Johnson said. "I push them to be as competitive as I am, so any win is good, and this was a great win."
Jason Murdock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.